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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Australia Day and prayer motions to confront Lismore City Council

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Despite many people's concerns about the date, Australia Day continues to be celebrated in Byron Shire. Photo Australia Day website
Despite many people’s concerns about the date, Australia Day continues to be celebrated on January 26. Photo Australia Day website

Changing the date of Australia Day and removing the opening prayer from the start of Lismore City Council meetings are two motions sure to spark debate at tomorrow’s meeting.

Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins has lodged a notice of motion calling on the council to write to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, local members and relevant ministers urging them to change the date of Australia Day.

Cr Ekins also wants to identify more appropriate dates for citizenship ceremonies, and to work toward culturally inclusive Australia Day celebrations.

‘Although Australia Day marks the anniversary of the 1788 first fleet’s arrival in Botany Bay this date is known to many Australians as Invasion Day and Survival Day,’ Cr Ekins argues.

‘The 26 January only became a national holiday in 1994 (younger than the hottest 100) and changing the date will be a significant symbolic act.

‘If Australia Day is a day for all Australians, let’s choose a day when all Australians can celebrate.

She has suggested May 8. To find out why, watch https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tV57_pRGToU’

The other motion sure to have some fellow councillors looking to the heavens for inspiration comes from Cr Elly Bird.

Cr Bird wants to do away with the opening prayer at the start of council meetings.

‘Recent census data shows a declining percentage of our community is Christian, and in fact that around 30 per cent of people are not religious at all,’ she argues.

‘In recognition of our diverse community and in order for Council meetings to be as inclusive as possible it is no longer an appropriate opening for Council meetings and should be removed.’

The meeting will be held at the council chambers in Goonellabah from 6pm on Tuesday, but for those unable to make it, the meeting will be live-streamed via the internet.

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  1. The Christian prayer is being removed from the Tweed Shire Council meetings at long last (instigated by the Mayor and Deputy). How can Council proclaim to be inclusive and still pray to only one god when man has invented over 3,000 throughout history.

    We are a secular nation by virtue of section 116 of our constitution and no government proceedings should invoke any religious approval as this is a breach of the separation of church and state.

    * In most cases it is a Christian god who is prayed to and as we are made up of many diverse faith groups, it is disrespectful and discriminatory to the minor religious groups who don’t get to have their particular god honored during Council meetings.

    * It could also give cause for people of no religion to question whether Council issues would be decided in favor of a religious group.

    * The practice sends a wrong message to rate payers and residents who elected the Councilors with a wish that they place the interests of voters above all others.

    * Finally, the effect of prayers before Council meetings is to convey to voters that the Council is prepared to obey some higher power rather than the voter’s wishes.

  2. These activists are desperate for an issue. Saying an opening prayer takes but a few minutes and hardly interferes with the day’s business, which is hopefully more substantive than worrying about a symbolic prayer.

    It doesn’t really matter whether more or fewer people are actually Christians, we live in a Christian culture which is nominally more civilised than some of the countries our migrants fled from. It’s an iconic symbolism that seems to be alien to some Council activists.

    There’s an old saying, that Councils are there to take care of the roads, rubbish and rates. Once they start delving into politics, they’re on the way to ignoring their essential function and duty to the community.

  3. What’s next? The Ten Commandments? That would put chaos into the mix. Our laws are based on them. Christian or whatever – love your neighbour.

  4. The Christian God makes it very clear in His word that He (a generic “He” by the way) has little interest in glib and unbelieving prayers. If you don’t believe in God, your prayers won’t be heard anyway: Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

  5. Nutcase, looney-tune Greens councillors, do NOT represent the majority of sane
    Australians. Even the majority of senior respected indigenous leaders are disgusted by
    the Greens and other activists’ motion to change Australia day from its current date.
    The vast majority of Australians not only do not want the date to change, they are
    appalled at these unrepresentative fools and their ideas.


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